The Credo Clean Standard™—Bringing safety, sustainability, and transparency to beauty

The Credo Clean Standard™—Bringing safety, sustainability, and transparency to beauty

By Mia Davis, VP of Sustainability and Impact at Credo

When Credo launched in 2015, we debuted our robust Dirty List®, which contains over 2,700 specific ingredients and types of ingredients that are used in mainstream beauty products, but which Credo prohibits due to safety and/or sustainability reasons. 

The Dirty List® is an important foundation, but we knew we needed to go further than a “free of” list in order to ensure our definition of
“clean” was meaningful.

In 2018, we launched the
Credo Clean Standard™a roadmap to “clean” for our 130 brands. Part compliance checklist, part educational document, and part best practice guidance for a more sustainable future, it remains the strongest standard in retail. Here are the pillars of our Standard-- and the hard questions we ask of brands and the entire supply chain. 


What do we know about the safety of the ingredient? Does it present a risk to the user, or to the environment, whether by itself or as used in a beauty product?

Credo partners with platforms like
ChemForward to bring chemical safety front and center. We want brands to be able to choose safer, clean ingredients for their beauty products.


Is the ingredient sourced from nature, is it synthetic or is it some combination (e.g. naturally-derived)? Is there more than one source for this ingredient, and if so, is one better for people or the environment?

We have different source restrictions, e.g. no animal-derived ingredients for 1000+ chemicals that have mineral, plant or synthetic source options. 


How is this ingredient grown, mined or made? Was it shipped around the world during its production? Are there sustainability concerns, e.g. plantation farming practices? 

In addition to requiring compliance with Credo’s Sustainable Packaging Guidelines
, we are constantly working with stakeholders to surface sustainability information. We partner with Novi to help beauty industry stakeholders (like product formulators and brands) find clean beauty ingredients and packaging that are more sustainable.


Ethics is about how people, animals and communities are treated. It tends to be one of the hardest of the “clean values” to obtain clarity and documentation for. Questions we ask of the supply chain include: Is this ingredient linked to unfair labor conditions or poor wages? Is there any insight into the supply chain to understand if animals are treated humanely?  

Note that Credo has always been a cruelty-free retailer. All of our brands promise not to test on animals. 


Transparency around the sourcing, purity, and composition of clean ingredients—as well as the suppliers’ and brands’ processes—is important to The Credo Clean Standard. If this information is unknown, how can we be sure the products are clean?  For example, Credo is working hard to find potential sources of PFAS contamination in our industry, a really complicated issue that absolutely requires greater transparency from ingredient suppliers and contract manufacturers, since the PFAS are hiding in (or leaching into) products.

So, what is clean? Credo had to define “clean” and create a meaningful standard because the law that regulates the cosmetics industry in the US is from 1938 and it is about 2 pages long. The law allows carcinogens in baby shampoo, “fragrance” to be undisclosed (“fragrance” is another industry norm that Credo is disrupting), PFAS to contaminate the supply chains, and it is totally mum on sustainability and labor practices. 

The Credo Clean Standard™ will continue to evolve over time, especially in light of new data and innovation. We learn from allies up and down the supply chain, and Credo offers our brand partners support in the journey to be compliant and strive to produce more sustainable beauty products made with clean, safe and ethically-sourced ingredients. Raising the bar on safety, sustainability and transparency is not easy, but most worthwhile undertakings aren’t! Doing “clean” together as allies makes it possible, and more fun.

Back to blog